8 great first pets for children when a dog is not an option

8 great first pets for children when a dog is not an option

The first pets that my sister and I fitted into a round glass bowl. Goldfish were a big part of our lives and served as pets for many years.

While goldfish have their purpose, they can sometimes seem a bit boring. After all, you cannot play fetch with a fish.

When my sister and I tried to negotiate for a furrier pet, we decided on a hamster and a gerbil. We asked our parents hard to prove that we are responsible rodent owners. But eventually my parents gave in and decided to welcome a dog into the house. It was an option that they and I didn’t even know was an option. Here we were, aiming low.

While Buttons, the Bichon Frise, was a delightful and very important part of the Belz family, many homes cannot simply welcome a dog. Many people rent houses these days, and the rental contract can prevent certain pets. Dogs also carry a lot of responsibility – especially if you have a puppy. Nevertheless, there are many great opportunities that lie somewhere between goldfish and dogs. If your children are looking for a new family member, you’ll find eight great “first pets” to consider.


My husband was lucky enough to have a turtle that he still likes to look back on. Turtles are very cute and they are a good reminder to take things slowly sometimes. To prepare for a turtle, you need to make sure that you have the right environment for him.

There are a lot of different breeds of turtles, but PetMD recommends red ear sliders for beginners. They are mostly aquatic, but also need some land areas. Your turtle will need some water changes, because impure water can later lead to infections.

Turtles may not be as energetic as dogs, but they are beautiful creatures that make excellent pets.


My parents were a bit more receptive to my sister’s hamster idea than to my gerbil idea – my guess was that gerbils with a longer tail look more like the kind of rodents you wouldn’t want to see running around your house.

Hamsters are a great first pet, but children still have to be careful when handling them. They are furry and cute, but also a bit fragile, which makes them better for older children in elementary or middle school.

One of the great things that have changed about hamster care is that wood chips are definitely a no-no. Bedding made from vegetable paper fibers is the best way to keep hamsters healthy. And of course you need to buy her an exercise bike. It is good for your hamster to relieve boredom, and it is also a lot of fun to watch.

Hermit crabs

Recent reports suggest that hermit crabs should not be kept as pets. CertaPet even called them the “most controversial” pet of 2017, but if you focus more on making sure the Hermit Crab has a spacious and healthy environment, they may be a good choice for children who know they need to keep their hands to themselves.

They need sand that hasn’t been contaminated, a room big enough to dig and climb, fresh shells to transform into as they grow up, and friends. That’s right – despite their name, hermit crabs are social creatures. They enjoy working together and sharing. If you are serious about keeping them as pets, don’t buy just one. Also avoid painted shells. These can be poisonous and are simply not natural.


This is a personal recommendation, as I have had a pet newt for literally 20 years. He was a close friend and he will probably outlive me.

Newts are more interactive than your standard goldfish. Mine likes to follow my finger and say hello every morning. Mine, like many newts in pet shops, is a fire-bellied newt.

It prefers to swim in water, but occasionally likes to sunbathe on land. It is active, harmless and a great pet. All you need is some gravel and some surfaces your newt can crawl on to get some air. You can eat bloodworms and earthworms, but also flies and food pellets.


Cats are not the easiest pets to keep, but they are usually less involved than owning a dog. In general, cats are more your roommate than your friend. But they are still wonderful companions.

The best way to bring a cat into your life is to go to an animal shelter. This way, your child and your potential new pet can get to know each other early on. Cats have different personalities, so you can also talk to the staff to make sure you choose a cat that fits your life situation. There are so many cute cats looking for a home right now, and many of them would love to cuddle with you and your children.

Tropical fish

Yes, there is a difference between goldfish and tropical fish. When you get tropical fish, you usually have a huge tank where your pets can swim, interact and thrive.

You can teach your children fish communities if more than a few interact with each other. You can also learn a lot yourself and find out which fish are best compatible so you can make the most of your tanking experience. Just watching a tank is a great way to get some peace and quiet. Starter tanks are a good start.


Looking for a simple pet? A snail can be the perfect fit. They are quiet, which means they are perfect for a home and children can handle them without any problems.

Snails also eat most fruits and vegetables, so extra salad in your fridge just a few days before you throw them away is an ideal meal for your new pet. You can also eat dried, crushed eggshells.

Guinea pig

Guinea pigs can be a lot of fun for any family – and according to Vetstreet, they’re pretty easy to have at home.

They also last longer than your standard hamster. On average guinea pigs can live between five and seven years, but many guinea pigs have passed this milestone. They respond to their owners and most of them are really in good health. Similar to cats they come with their own personality. Before you pick one up, you should make sure that you both get along with each other first.

Leave a Comment